Monday, February 01, 2016

George Michael Was Right: A Quick Remembrance of a Vodka Tour

When we were in Russia, we were so excited to taste some true Russian vodka. Well ok, I was really the one who was super excited and hubby sort of just came along, but it was all very exciting to me. We saw the palaces and churches by day, and the boozy fun side of St. Petersburg at night.

Throughout the trip, I had seen this couple who were hitting the same sights we were. They had that 50's rockabilly aesthetic, which is one that I really like looking at but have no interest in trying to pull off. I know I have my own style which I adhere to pretty closely, but the idea of dressing in that same rockabilly style every day is not attractive to me. However, it does fascinate me. All the cherry-print skirts and red and white bandannas and peep-toe shoes are pretty cute (on other people). And the pin curls in their hair...yesss. Again, not my personal style but definitely a stand out. Because they were dressed like this all the time, they definitely caught my eye. I found myself thinking that I'd like to meet them and maybe hang out for a drink because they must be pretty cool.
She was not nearly this cute, but this is how she dressed. Cherries for days.
When we got to the meeting point for our vodka tour (you can't just go out on your own in Russia - you need a very expensive visa to do so, and since we were only there a couple of days it made more sense to do tours), I saw the rockabilly couple waiting as well. They must have seen us around too, because they gave us a little head-nod of acknowledgment. As we boarded the boat (yes, it was a boat down the Neva River with vodka all the time, and it was amazing!), they chose to sit next to us. Perhaps they thought we were cool, as well? Well, duh.

The shots started flowing and we sang and yelled and chanted and also shopped and did some sightseeing and took a million pictures. We got to see another side of St. Petersberg - a really cool downtown side where young people were hanging out and drinking coffee at cafes, walking hand in hand down the Neva, and honestly, just being people. There is nothing like traveling and seeing foreign places to bring down your prejudices about other cultures and countries. We hit up a great chocolate shop, saw some amazing sculptures, and yelled and waved to anyone on a bridge as our boat sailed under it. We even learned to read some Russian, which I absolutely loved even whilst tipsy on the vodka.

And this rockabilly couple, the ones whose fashion choices led me to believe they were so awesome that we could be lifelong friends, were beyond annoying. They were loud and obnoxious and not in the fun way. They were crass and uncouth, and as Jersey as I can be, I am never those things. I am always respectful and thoughtful and conscious of my surroundings, especially when I travel. These losers made off-color jokes and were obnoxious and really quite uncivilized. They were every reason other countries hate Americans. Maybe their 1950's clothes really did represent where their evolution had stopped in terms of understanding the world around them. I hated them.

I couldn't wait to be away from them, and in fact, when we got off the boat to go shopping in Nevsky Prospekt, we made the decision to sit in someone else's seats for the rest of the boat ride so as not to sit by these people any longer. It might have caused a bit of unrest with our fellow travelers to switch like that, but it was worth it. Drunk on vodka or not, there was no way I was going to spend another minute talking to those circus animals without ending up in a Russian prison for assault.

Despite our initial opinion of them, we came to realize that George Michael was right. Sometimes the clothes do not make the man. The morals of the story are: 1) Sometimes people who look cool are really just the most uncool, 2) Americans really do need to check themselves when we go overseas so we aren't perpetuating the stereotypes of Ugly Americans, and 3) Russian vodka is really delicious and I want to go back and spend more time drinking it.

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